Spring-ing back into Exercise
By: Jason Gallant, Registered Physiotherapist
Spring is here! After the long, cold, dark winter, many of us like to get outdoors and get active. This is a great idea, but if you’ve been sedentary for the winter you need to be careful to get back into action the right way. Whether it be running, joining a new softball league, or working in the backyard, I see many patients who get a little overzealous in the spring, and injure themselves in the process. Here are some tips to keep you injury free this Spring:
Ease your way into it
Getting back to running after taking the winter off? Don’t start out with a 10k run! Whatever activity you choose to do, start off slowly and work your way up. Start with a run/walk program (jog 1 minute, walk one minute), and slowly change the ratios until you work your way up to a full run. Starting a new outdoor sport? Try to get out and practice before going full out in your first game. Go for a light jog and kick the ball around before your soccer game, hit a few balls at the driving range before going out and playing 18 holes of golf.
This is especially important when you are getting back into an exercise program after being inactive for the winter. Your body is not prepared for the stress you are about to put on it. You need to warm up your muscles, tendons, and joints to prepare them for what’s to come, otherwise you’re putting yourself at a much greater risk of injury. A physiotherapist can show you a proper warm up tailored to your sport or activity, to make sure you’re preparing your body the right way. A few simple movements or stretches are all that is needed to get your body ready for action.
Starting a light weight training program is a great way to get your body prepared to return to sport or exercise. It primes your muscles and joints to be ready for the stress of the activity, and it can help take care of any strength imbalances you may have that could predispose you to injury. There are many studies which show that a resistance training program not only improves your performance in a variety of sports, but also reduces your risk of injury. A physiotherapist can give you a specific exercise program that meets the demands of your sport and matches your activity level. A good resistance training program doesn’t have to mean lifting weights in a gym. It can include simple body weight or band-resisted exercises that can easily be done at home.
Spring cleaning for your body
Have you had a few nagging aches and pains that have stuck around for the winter? It’s important that you address these issues before you get back to your sport or exercise program. Just like your car, your body needs regular maintenance to perform at an optimal level. You take your car in for a tune up, so why not do the same for your body? It’s a good idea to book a session with your physiotherapist every 6-12 months, similar to what you would do with a dentist. There may not be any major injury, but your physio can take a look and your movement patterns and address any small issues you may have before they get any worse.
Whatever you do, get out and enjoy the outdoors. The warmer weather is a great excuse to get out and stay active!